Centre for Aboriginal Culture and Education has array of services

Irvin Hill (left) and Mallory Whiteduck are Aboriginal cultural liaison officers with the Centre for Aboriginal Culture and Education (CASE). A third cultural liaison officer, Naomi Sarazin, recently joined the CASE team. (James Park Photo)

Aboriginal culture thrives in the heart of Carleton’s Tory tunnels, at the Aboriginal lounge.

In fact, the lounge fosters a quiet study space, a place for Elders to tell stories and a spot to mingle.

“Sometimes students will open the door and it will be packed in here,” says Irvin Hill, an Aboriginal cultural liaison officer with the Centre for Aboriginal Culture and Education (CACE). “Students want a space where they can see other Aboriginal students, feel comfortable and interact with others. It’s also open to everybody – including staff and faculty.”

The lounge is just one of the services provided by the CACE.

With money it’s received through various grants, the CACE has used the summer to renovate its lounge – giving it fresh paint, new appliances and new furniture to start the 2010-11 school year.

“We had some hand-me-downs before,” Hill explains. “But this is a lot more comfortable just to look at. And, it’s more appealing to the eye than what we had.”

The money has also allowed for the centre to expand its programming – which includes hiring Mallory Whiteduck, the new Aboriginal cultural liaison officer who works with Hill.

The CACE has come a long way from its roots, which date back to 1991, when it started as the Centre for Education Research and Culture. It has endured ups and downs with only one part-time person managing the centre in the mid 1990s. In 2010, it grew to three Aboriginal cultural liaison officers who share the duties in organizing activities for students on campus, maintaining the lounge and taking the lead in different areas, like recruitment initiatives.

Whiteduck, a recent graduate of Carleton’s Canadian Studies master’s program, will help with Aboriginal undergraduate recruitment.

“I’m a huge advocate of education for our youth and our people, and I think the opportunity to work with students is a really good one,” says Whiteduck. “It’s important for Carleton to tap into the huge potential amongst our young people and to empower our people.”

The CACE also promotes the idea of Elders participating in the opening the university’s Convocation ceremonies – a new tradition expected to continue at Carleton. There is a new Elders program being offered this year, in which these spiritual leaders will be on campus an estimated three days a week, for a few hours during the school year.

The centre is part of Equity Services and also gives Aboriginal students a chance to have one-on-one counselling. It hosts and promotes activities like the annual Aboriginal Week, and reaches out to welcome new Aboriginal students to campus.

“We’ve heard from students who have graduated, and they’re glad the centre was here and the services were here,” adds Hill. “It’s a long process. We’re seeing how things work. We’re not flying into things. We’re moving at a good pace and changing things that need to be changed.”



This entry was written by Kristy Strauss and posted in the issue. Tags applied to this article are: . Leave a comment, bookmark the permalink or share the following short URL for this article via social media: http://carletonnow.carleton.ca/?p=3639

Kristy Strauss

By Kristy Strauss

Kristy Strauss graduated from Carleton's journalism program in 2009. She is a regular contributor to Carleton Now. She has worked as a reporter for the Kemptville Advance. She currently reports for EMC Ottawa South.

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